Saranac Lake wins Cuomo's $10M downtown redevelopment prize

SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. (WCAX) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Saranac Lake Tuesday for a big announcement with a big check.

"I'm here to say congratulations, you are first place winners at $10 million!" said Cuomo, D-New York.

Out of 105 applicants, the Saranac Lake region received first place this year for the downtown revitalization initiative grant, a state-funded grant focusing on redevelopment.

"We don't have enough money to fund every plan and really you only want to fund the best plans, so the competition, the downside is not everybody wins. The upside is not everybody should win. This is an investment of taxpayer money, you want to invest it in a good plan that's actually going to work," Cuomo said.

This is the second time Saranac Lake applied for the grant. Mayor Clyde Rabideau said they are the first in the Adirondacks to receive the award.

"Ten million dollars is a lot of money for a village of 5,400 people and when we talk about leveraging with this kind of a grant, we can leverage a lot," Rabideau said.

Howard Zemsky, the head of Empire State Development, said Saranac Lake's application was full of what they were looking for, focused on growth, improving the streetscapes, and enhancing art and culture.

"Do more mixed-use for development, create more 24/7, 365 concentrated activities. Those are all the kinds of projects that resonate with the committee that's selecting winners. So your project has elements of all of that," Zemsky said.

Rabideau said it's still a toss-up of who will receive the grant money.

"We're looking for these traffic generators to enhance and have that synergy that the governor talked about to really bring our downtown to its full potential. So, it's a competition within the village just as we do statewide to bring out the best," Rabideau said.

Funding won't just go to Saranac Lake but will be spread throughout the region, including to Lake Placid and Tupper Lake.

"We want the best projects that bring the biggest bang for our buck to the village," Rabideau said. "We're going to do it the fairest way possible. We want to see a lot of great projects happen and $10 million, frankly, will facilitate that."